South Carolina Uncontested Divorce
This information is an overview of the uncontested South Carolina divorce filing process and a summary of the divorce papers that are typically filed with the family law or domestic relations clerk. This overview is not intended to be an exact step-by-step guide for those "do it yourself divorce" filers, due to the fact that many cases are unique and the overview presented here is often not the only method of obtaining an uncontested divorce in South Carolina.
To file for divorce in South Carolina, the filing partner must be a resident of the state for at least a year; however, when both spouses reside in the state, the Plaintiff must be a resident for three months. Between the filing and final decree, a 90-day delay is required. The action may be filed in 1) the county where the Defendant resides, 2) the county where the Plaintiff resides when the Defendent does not live in South Carolina and cannot be located or 3) the county where the couple last lived together if both still live in South Carolina.
Grounds for divorce are No-Fault, which means living separate and apart for one year. General grounds are 1) adultery, 2) alcoholism and/or drug addiction, 3) cruelty and 4) willful desertion for a year.
Actions are filed in the Family Court of the Judicial Circuit.
The filing spouse is called the Plaintiff; the responding spouse is called the Defendant.
South Carolina offers a simplified divorce when the spouses are:
> Filing on the ground of a one-year continuous separation;
> Have no marital property, or have reached an agreement about the division and distribution of martial property;
> Have no marital debt, or have reached an agreement about the division of the debt;
> Have no minor children, or have reached an agreement that meets all the minimum requirements set by the South Carolina Child Support Guidelines.
To launch a divorce on this trajectory, the following forms must be filed in court:
> A Family Court Cover Sheet (SCCA 467/SCBar-467), which includes the name, address, telephone numbers and email address;
> A Certificate of Exemption (SC Bar SD-1), which certifies that the action is exempt from mediation and (usually) that the parties have agreed on custody and visitation, if applicable;
> A Summons (SCBar SD-2), which informs the Defendant that the action has been started and gives him or her 30 days to file an Answer;
> A Complaint for Divorce (SCBar SD-3), which is the instrument that starts the divorce, and it establishes that the couple meet the conditions described above as well as waiving any claims to alimony;
> A Financial Declaration (SCBar 430(a)), which profiles the financial situation of both the Plaintiff and the Defendant;
> A Motion and Affidavit to proceed In Formis Pauperis (SCBar SD-4), which is used by the Plaintiff when he or she cannot afford the filing costs of the action.
> An Affidavit of Service (SCBar SD-5), which is returned to the Clerk when the divorce papers are served by mail or returned by the Sheriff if he or she serves the divorce papers;
> An Application and Affidavit of Default (SCBar SD-6), which is used after more than 30 days have elapsed since the serving of the divorce papers, when no answer has been received in this time and when the Defendant is not in the military;
> A Request for a Hearing (SCBar SD-7), which requests a divorce hearing;
> A Final Decree of Divorce (SCBar SD-8), which includes Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and which, when signed by the judge, divorces the parties;
> A Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Form 0692, which records the divorce for state records.
After the first five forms have been filed with the Clerk of Court, copies of the Family Court Cover Sheet, Certificate of Exemption, Summons and Complaint for Divorce must be served on the Defendant.
This is done by sending the divorce papers Certified Mail, Restricted Delivery, Return Receipt Requested. When the green recipient card comes back, the Plaintiff must file the Affidavit of Service, which authenticates that the Defendant was served and which must be signed in the presence of a notary.
If 35 days after the Defendent has received the divorce papers, he or she has not answered, the Plaintiff may file an Application and Affidavit for Default and a Request for a Hearing. At the hearing a witness must testify that the Plaintiff has lived "separate and apart" from his or her spouse for one year.
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